My Friend Said...

"My friend said…[usually insert some ridiculous statement, or some mad theory they read on the internet]." Social media and the internet have opened us up to an entire world of information, but unfortunately an entire world of misinformation too. And one of the main problems is that this has encouraged a shortening of people’s attention spans, so they only tend to read the shock headlines, and that’s what gets passed on.

The first question to ask is, where did they get this information from? The answer is usually social media, or someone they follow. Already your alarm bells should be ringing. Social media can be great, but it’s not really somewhere you should be getting your scientific information from. Most of it is designed to be concise, and eye catching, because often you’re flicking through it. Therefore, that probably means the basic info you’re seeing isn’t the whole truth, and it’s done to grab your attention.

If it’s information from someone they follow, bear in mind that may very easily have bias attached to it. The person they follow could easily have an agenda, or could be using it as a marketing tool for themselves, or something they’re selling. And what’s more likely is that this person isn’t even remotely qualified to be giving or deciphering this data, and they’re either misconstruing the study, or just flat out getting the facts wrong.

The most important question to ask is, is the information qualified with substantial science? Check the source, check the studies backing it up. How extensive were they, how controlled were they, how conclusive were the actual claims being made? All too often, it’s a small study, or the subjects weren’t monitored in a controlled environment, or the data only very slightly supports the claims, most of the time to a negligible amount. Make sure they’re meta-studies, and make sure the data is even there.

Be careful where you get your information from, because nowadays things are designed to catch your attention through shock, or flat out manipulate the facts. My preference is towards qualified scientists, and not that topless Instagram model, or your mate Dave. Stay sensible, and I’ll be back next week.

Dan Miller

Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer